Book Reviews: THE QUEEN’S ARMY and SCARLET by Marissa Meyer
SCARLET is the second in Marissa Meyer’s “Lunar Chronicles” series that launched last year with the release of CINDER. Each book in the series is a re-telling of a classic fairy tale, and while each novel tells the tale of a different character, all the novels together are telling a much larger story. CINDER was based on Cinderella, and told of Linh Cinder, a teenage cyborg living with her stepmother and step-sisters, suffering their abuse, until she catches the attention of Prince Kai. In that novel, we learned of the evil machinations of the Lunar Queen, and her designs upon Kai, and the Eastern Commonwealth over which he rules. At the end of the novel, Cinder was imprisoned, facing a death sentence. Why? You’ll have to read it to find out!
SCARLET is based on Little Red Riding Hood. Cinder has broken out of prison and is now a fugitive. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, in the town of Rieux, Scarlet Benoit is looking for her grandmother. She went missing from her farm weeks ago, and the authorities have all but given up on her. Scarlet knows her grandmother wouldn’t run away, and she’s determined to look for her. She finds an unlikely ally in Wolf, a street fighter. But Scarlet is blissfully unaware of the fact that her hunt for her Grandmother intersects with Cinder’s mission to bring down the Lunar Queen…
THE QUEEN’S ARMY is a novella, a prequel to SCARLET, that gives some of Wolf’s backstory. Aaaand that’s about as much as I’ll say about that.
I am a fan of this series. I’ve suffered series disappointment in the past–you know, where book one is great, and book two not as good, and by the third book you’re past caring. Not so with The Lunar Chronicles–at least not so far. CINDER was excellent, and SCARLET is just as good. It’s well-written, and easy to follow. There are plot twists, but not a whole lot of sub-plots to keep up with. I think there’s a time and a place for complex story-telling, but sometimes you just want a good, exciting adventure, where you’re not left wondering what just happened. I didn’t find the plotting in SCARLET to be contrived: the characters’ motivations were reasonable, and there was a natural flow to the story. There wasn’t a single moment where something happened, or something was said, that seemed out of place. And the last 100 pages were, for me, un-put-downable. They kept me up past my bedtime, which is always a good sign!
There’s some romance in both CINDER and SCARLET, but for both books, it’s not the story; Cinder and Scarlet have much bigger issues to deal with! I’m not a big fan of romance novels, so that was a plus for me–though I don’t think romance fans will be too disappointed with what there is. The series certainly leans heavily toward sci-fi, but I think even those that don’t usually read sci-fi can appreciate it. The characters are engaging, their goals are clear, and I think you’ll end up getting sucked in. If you would watch an episode of Doctor Who, you won’t have a problem with CINDER or SCARLET!
I’ve not said much about THE QUEEN’S ARMY, and given it’s length, there’s not much to say except it doesn’t let the series down. I actually read it after reading SCARLET, and while I don’t think it would hurt to read it first, I think I appreciated it’s relevance more for having read it after. Again, the writing is excellent.
Regulars to my blog will remember how I gushed over Scott Westerfeld’s LEVIATHAN series. We’ll I’m gushing again folks. A very different story, but just as enthralling. I would rate it PG-13, mainly for violence (especially in SCARLET). There’s no profanity (except for one instance where Scarlet questions the legitimacy of one of the character’s parentage), and no sexual content. I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend this book/this series (at least so far)! Part three, CRESS (a character we’ve met already, based, I think, on Rapunzel), is due out next year, and the final part, WINTER (based on Snow White), in 2015. I can’t wait!!